not just for entertainment

To me, it’s a magical journey that allows me to meet inspiring, selfless people that I know are so hard to find in this world that is uncaring and selfish.  It allows me to experience things that I know I’d never get to experience in this lifetime, like meeting fantasy creatures and strange beings, both good and bad.  For two hours or more, I get to time travel back in time or into the future, or travel into a different dimension where ghosts, fairies, superheroes, creatures from the underworld, talking animals and toys co-exist.  It’s also a mirror of what happens in real life.  Where stories do not end in happy endings.  Where impossible things become possible.

I’ve seen a lot of wonderful, great movies.  And I only say that a movie is great when it is able to inspire me.  It doesn’t have to win an award to be great. As long as that movie had a profound effect on me, whether it’s a horror movie, a comedy, or a kung-fu, and I couldn’t get it over with, then that’s the time I say that the movie is great.

I know there are still a lot of movies that I have yet to see that could possibly be more fantastic or captivating than these ones in my list (and I hope to discover them soon) but the movies I share here touched my heart in such a very personal way that it is only right that I get to pay tribute to each one of them by compiling them here and calling them here as “My list of favorite movies.”

Grease (1978)

Starring: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-Johngrease

Directed by Randal Kleiser

Trivia:  For a time, it was the third highest-grossing movie of all time behind only Jaws and Star Wars.

Ice Castles (1978) Ice Castles

Starring:  Robby Benson, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Colleen Dewhurst, Tom Skerritt

Directed by Donald Wrye

Trivia:  Lynn-Holly Johnson says she was repeatedly pressured to do a nude scene in this film, which she refused to do. She says this incident makes her laugh and say “if you only knew!” whenever someone tells her what a great family film this movie was.


Aliens (1986) aliens

Starring:  Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton

Directed by James Cameron

Trivia:  Sigourney Weaver had initially been very hesitant to reprise her role as Ripley, and had rejected numerous offers from Fox Studios to do any sequels, fearing that her character would be poorly written, and a sub-par sequel could hurt the legacy of Alien. However, she was so impressed by the high quality of James Cameron’s script – specifically, the strong focus on Ripley, the mother-daughter bond between her character and Newt, and the incredible precision with which Cameron wrote her character, that she finally agreed to do the film.

Dead Poets Society (1989) dead poets society

Starring:  Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles

Directed by Peter Weir

Trivia:  The movie’s line “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” was voted as the #95 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).

American Beauty (1999) american beauty

Starring:  Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper

Directed by Sam Mendes

Trivia: The title of the film refers to a breed of roses that while pretty and appealing in appearance, is often prone to rot underneath at the roots and branches of the plant. Thus, the tagline “…look closer” tells the viewer that when they look beyond the “perfect suburban life” they will find something rancid at the root.

Unforgiven (1992) unforgiven

Starring:  Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Trivia:  It took Clint Eastwood several years to actually get round to reading the script as his script reader had initially told him that it wasn’t very good.

Legally Blonde (2001) legally blonde

Starring:  Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair

Directed by Robert Luketic

Trivia:  To prepare for her role as Elle, Reese Witherspoon spent two weeks studying the behavior of sorority girls, as she did not wish to portray a stereotypical airhead sorority image. She states on the DVD commentary that they were all very kind and polite, and she enjoyed her time with them. She also observed women shopping from the café at Neiman Marcus, and attended law school for a day.

Bruce Almighty (2003) bruce almighty

Starring:  Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman

Directed by Tom Shadyac

Trivia:  This film has been officially banned in Egypt for “sacrilegious content”.

Just Like Heaven (2005) Just Like Heaven (2005)

Directed by Mark Waters

Starring:  Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo

Trivia:  When Elizabeth asks David who about the girl that Daryl told him he had to let go of, David responds that her name was Laura. Reese Witherspoon’s full name is Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon.
Shawshank Redemption (1994) the_shawshank_redemption

Directed by Frank Darabont

Starring:  Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman

Trivia:  Stephen King sold the rights to the movie very cheaply out of his friendship with Frank Darabont. They had originally become friends when Darabont adapted a short story of King’s called “The Woman in the Room” (King has a policy stating that any aspiring filmmaker can adapt his short stories for a buck) and King was thoroughly impressed. They maintained a pen pal relationship and didn’t actually meet until Darabont optioned Shawshank.

Back to the Future (1985-Part I, 1989-Part II, 1990-Part III) back to the future

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring:  Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

Trivia:  Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Sci-Fi” in June 2008.

Heart and Souls (1993) heart and souls

Directed by Ron Underwood

Starring:  Robert Downey Jr., Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Sizemore

Trivia:  Julia’s letter to John reads as follows: “John, There was so much I wanted to say to you tonight, but everything I said somehow came out all wrong. I am coming home because I want to be with you. I hope you’ll give me another chance. Whatever happens, please know I will love you always. Julia”

Ordinary People (1980) ordinary people

Directed by Robert Redford

Starring:  Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch, Timothy Hutton

Trivia:  Timothy Hutton’s father, actor Jim Hutton, passed away prior to filming. Hutton has said that he did not use his mourning as a basis for Conrad’s depression. Also, actress Mary Tyler Moore’s son Richie Moore committed suicide in the same year of the film’s production whilst Moore herself separated from her husband producer Grant Tinker during filming.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) it's a wonderful life

Directed by Frank Capra

Starring:  James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

Trivia:  Frank Capra often said that this was his favorite of all his films.

Ikiru (1952) ikiru

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring:  Takashi Shimura, Shin’ichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka

Trivia:  The literal translation of Ikiru is “To Live”.

Pride and Prejudice (2005) pride and prejudice

Directed by Joe Wright

Starring:  Keira Knightly, Matthew Macfadyen

Trivia:  Joe Wright was not initially keen on Keira Knightly playing Elizabeth, believing her to be too attractive. He changed his mind upon meeting her, deciding her tomboyish attitude would be perfect for the part.

Schindler’s List (1993) schindler's list

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring:  Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes

Trivia:  Steven Spielberg was not paid for this film. He refused to accept a salary citing that it would be “blood money”.

Girl, Interrupted (1999) girl interrupted

Directed by James Mangold

Starring:  Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg

Trivia:  This is one of many roles in which Winona Ryder’s character writes in a diary.

The Sixth Sense (1999) the sixth sense2

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring:  Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette

Trivia:  Toni Collette has said that she was so moved by the emotional resonance of the story whilst filming, she didn’t even realize it was a horror film until after its release.

Pleasantville (1998) pleasantville

Directed by Gary Ross

Starring:  Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Joan Allen, William H. Macy

Trivia:  The two books that Bud (David) narrates to the teenagers of Pleasantville, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Catcher in the Rye,” are the two most widely banned books in the United States.

Kung Fu Hustle (2004) stephen-chow

Directed by Stephen Chow

Starring:  Stephen Chow, Xiaogang Feng, Wah Yuen, Chi Chung Lam, Qiu Yuen

Trivia:  As of 2005, this film had the widest cinematic release in the USA of a foreign language film.

Magnolia (1999) magnolia

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring:  Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Tom Cruise

Trivia:  Aimee Mann’s music inspired Paul Thomas Anderson to write the script and at least one lyric (and possibly more) from an Aimee Mann song was lifted and used as dialogue. In the song “Deathly” the lyric goes: “Now that I’ve met you / Would you object to / Never seeing / Each other again”. In the film, Melora Walter’s character says “Now that I’ve met you, would you object to never seeing me again?”

Toy Story (1995-Part I, 1999-Part II, 2010-Part III) toy story

Directed by John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, Lee Unkrich

Starring:  Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

Trivia:  Toy Story 3 is the only Toy Story film not to receive a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It still however received a relatively high score of 99%.

The Joy Luck Club (1993) amy-tan-the-joy-luck-club

Directed by Wayne Wang

Starring:  Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom, Rosalind Chao

Trivia:  Based on the novel by Amy Tan.

50 First Dates (2004) 50_first_dates

Directed by Peter Segal

Starring:  Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler

Trivia:  Originally entitled “50 First Kisses” but changed to avoid confusion with Drew Barrymore’s vehicle Never Been Kissed.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) bridget-jones-1

Directed by Sharon Maguire

Starring:  Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant

Trivia:  To prepare for the role, Renee Zellweger gained 25 pounds, and then actually worked at a British publishing company for a month in preparation for the role. She adopted an alias as well as her posh accent and was apparently not recognized. On her desk in this office she kept a framed picture of then boyfriend Jim Carrey. Workers who did not recognize her found this to be odd, but never mentioned it to her for fear of embarrassing her.

Office Space (1999) office space

Directed by Mike Judge

Starring:  Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, Gary Cole

Trivia:  Jennifer Aniston’s character is named Joanna, which is Aniston’s own middle name.

He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) He's Just Not That Into You

Directed by Ken Kwapis

Starring:  Ginnifer Goodwin, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly

Trivia:  Jennifer Aniston has 20 minutes screen time in this film, Jennifer Connelly has 25 minutes.

Ghost (1990) ghost

Directed by Jerry Zucker

Starring:  Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg

Trivia:  When it came time to cast the film, writer Bruce Joel Rubin suggested Patrick Swayze for the role of Sam Wheat. Director Jerry Zucker felt that Swayze was completely wrong for the part. Many actors that included Paul Hogan (who instead made Almost an Angel), Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Mel Gibson, Dennis Quaid, Bruce Willis (Demi Moore’s husband at the time, who didn’t think the film would work), John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Mickey Rourke, David Duchovny, Johnny Depp, Kevin Costner and Alex Baldwin were all offered the part but all turned it down feeling that playing a ghost would be cheesy. Zucker then decided to audition Swayze though he thought he would blow the audition. To Zucker’s surprise, Swayze did a great audition and he was cast immediately in the part.

Les Miserables (2012) les mis

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring:  Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway

Trivia:  Typically, the soundtrack for a movie musical is recorded several months in advance and the actors mime to playback during filming. However, on this film, every single song was recorded live on set to capture the spontaneity of the performances. Everyone involved, from Hugh Jackman to Russell Crowe to producer Cameron Mackintosh, have praised this approach as it allowed them to concentrate on their acting as opposed to lip-syncing properly. They have also praised director Tom Hooper for attempting this on such a scale; something no director has ever done before.

Note:  Thanks to IMDb.com for all the movie info.

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